Pompous phonetics professor Henry Higgins is so sure of his abilities that he takes it upon himself to transform a Cockney working-class girl into someone who can pass for a cultured member of high society. His subject turns out to be the lovely Eliza Doolittle, who agrees to speech lessons to improve her job prospects. Higgins and Eliza clash, then form an unlikely bond -- one that is threatened by an aristocratic suitor. Written by
Audrey Hepburn's failure to win an Oscar nomination was considered a major upset, triggering protests from Warner and George Cukor. She rose above the snub, however, when the Academy invited her to present the Best Actor award, which went to co-star Rex Harrison. In accepting the award, he thanked "two fair ladies." See more »
Wilfrid Hyde-White (Col. Pickering) actually forgot the housekeeper's name (Mrs. Pearce) as she left the room without hesitation, and remembered it after she had left. The scene was not re-shot. See more »
[sounds from crowd, occasionally a word or phrase, indistinct and mostly not associated with a character]
Don't just stand there, Freddy, go and find a cab.
All right, I'll get it, I'll get it.
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In the posters, playbills and the original cast album for the stage version of "My Fair Lady", the credits always read "based on Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' ", letting the audience know what play "My Fair Lady" was actually adapted from. The movie credits simply read "from a play by Bernard Shaw". See more »
The actual plot is that Eliza hires Higgins after hearing him boast that with his speech training alone, she could appear to be a "proper lady". He accepts, treating it as a challenge, and in the beginning they develop a dislike for each other as they stubbornly continue the training program. Here is one element that lifts this story to the level of greatness - not only the man-woman conflict arises, but the upper-lower class contrast is explored, as it existed in Edwardian England. Things become quite complex, since Higgins is a confirmed bachelor and Eliza only wants to improve herself; but they insensibly come to have respect for each other, and a strange sort of interdependence develops. And she is NEVER subservient to him, and holds her own and stands her ground. Not many films give such respect to the female character, allowing her to be equal and even dominant - though the man doesn't realize it.
I strongly urge any newcomer to this film to listen carefully to the words of the songs - Shakespeare named his man-woman duel/romance "Taming of the Shrew"; My Fair Lady could be called "Taming of the Chauvinist" - and it is well expressed in each musical number. The music evolves right along with the story. And the music - well, it was the first Broadway album to sell a million copies, and was #1 on the Billboard Chart for 15 weeks!! In summary, Eliza, as I say, is the protagonist, and she exerts as profound a change in Higgins as he does in her. The barriers of both class and sex are breached, and never was the egalitarian tale told with such honesty and art.
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